Is it bad HR or bad Management?

Posted on December 12, 2011. Filed under: Leadership and teams, leadership response |

In a recent tweet I posted an article that raised some key things that “if your HR manager does, then you should fire them” and it started me thinking.  Well, it didn’t really START me thinking because I do that all the time, although what it did do is turn my thinking towards the issue of workplace and staffing problems and who is a) usually blamed and b) how these situations get so far out of hand.

I think the article provided some effective tips and evaluation points – yet it was clearly written in a way that was intended to generate interest and attention rather than to really help people.  Honestly how many HR managers would openly admit that  they were doing things like or even close to those listed in an article saying that if you do them you should be fired?

Rather than taking a negative – even if tongue inc heek – perspective, why not examine what factors make up success in the view of HR and the view of line management.  (much as I did some time ago with a short workshop on “How to find and engage the right advisor”).  I realise that the “cheeky” nature of the article may have grabbed attention (well it obviously worked with me) yet I think we need more than attention – we need action.

For instance, recruitment and staff turnover is often positioned as HR failing to do their job.  With many statistics floating around that up to 30% of people fake their resumes then I guess someone needs to work out a way to stop those people getting roles they are just not skilled or suitable for.  Then I ask myself (and you): who defines the criteria for success in a role and how well or clearly is this communicated?  Isn’t this a great opportunity for the line and the HR manager to work together to clarify what on the job criteria a candidate needs to satisfy as well as the tips on what to look out for from the experience of the HR professional?

I know there are times when I have been asked for advice by line managers because I recruit more often than they do – and so have a wider field of candidates to reflect on in terms of the difference between nervous or deceptive behaviour. (By the way I may listen to my instinct but only act on it when I have evidence – otherwise that is unfair and an inappropriate basis for a recruitment decision)  When you interview a lot you have an edge over people who do not interview often.

Just as the line manager has an edge in determining what examples of workplace performance are most relevant to the job and which are just well articulated responses.  The line manager is also potentially best placed to identify the type of person who will fit best into the team and work culture – are we a loud and social team or are we quiet with everyone getting on and doing their own thing?  The work style of a group and a candidate can be one of the most important matches you make – just ask anyone who has a job/employee from hell type of story.  In most cases you’ll find that there was a major mis-match of work styles.

The point I am tyring to make here is that no-one wins when a poor recruitment decision is made: especially not the candidate themselves who might suffer stress and anxiety, or a termination of employment early in their tenure that they cannot explain or a set of hopes dashed because it just isn’t working.

Yes the attention grabbing headline has a place – and an effective one – my request or call to action for you is to read and think a little more deeply.  Go beyond the reasons to fire your HR manager and ask some questions:

– did the HR manager have all the relevant information (did they ask or was it provided are two different sub questions)

– has accountability and responsibility for key decisions been placed in the right hands (sometimes the line manager simply knows more and should have the final say, whilst at other times the HR specialist and their knowledge need to be at the fore)

– can the situation be rectified?  Rather than firing a person, can we give them feedback and coaching – if that has been tried (and document) already and in accordance with your policy then perhaps a termination of employment is the right call.  However it may be a case of having a conversation with the person and getting to the bottom of why they did what they did. (some candidates do lie and falsify their reference checks and will get through almost any recruitment process – that’s where on the job performance assessment during the probation or trial period is effective)

Read the article I shared the link to if you like and please take your thinking one extra step – what would I do if this happened to me and how would I mutually fix it?  The article is a thought provoker – let your thoughts turn into practical analysis and relevant and appropriate action.



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